The 7 Last Plagues (Rev. 16)
Bible Passage:Read the prophecy in Revelation 16.
Theme:The culmination of the judgment of Babylon.
Overview:The fall of Babylon, which began in 1840, culminates in the 7 Last Plagues. All remaining earthly powers are overthrown as Jesus returns during the 7th Plague.
The plagues are judgmentsThe 7 Last Plagues are judgments (15:1, 16:1, 17:1, 18:8) that fulfill the judgment of Babylon. In chapters 15-16, the "seven last plagues" (Rev. 15:1) are described as "vials full of the wrath of God" (Rev. 15:7). Then, in chapter 17, one of the seven angels with the seven vials shows John the "judgment of the great whore" (Rev. 17:1), which occurs when the ten horns "shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire (Rev. 17:16). In chapter 18, this event of judgment and destruction is announced by the voice from heaven: "Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her" (Rev. 18:8).
The plagues do not harm God's peopleGod's people are not harmed by the plagues (Ps. 91:10). The plagues are the judgment of Babylon, out of which God's people have left (Rev. 18:4). However, God's people live through the plagues. They must rely on God's power and protection as they are in the midst of the catastrophes.
The 7 Last Plagues are linked to the 7 TrumpetsThe consecutive falls of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome in prophecy, followed by the final everlasting realm of Christ and His saints, show that Rome is the final realm to fall before God's people receive their inheritance and dwell in the promised new earth. The 7 Trumpets detail this process of the fall and overthrow of the last earthly realm. Revelation also prophecies about the 7 Last Plagues, which occur during a short time between the close of probation and the return of Christ, and provide the final step that brings disaster on those opposed to God. The 7 Trumpets and the 7 Last Plagues are both part of the process of overthrowing those opposed to God in order to usher in Christ's everlasting realm. Christ has promised to share that realm with His people.
There is another place in the Bible where 7 trumpets are used to overthrow a city so that God's people can move into the promised land and receive their inheritance (Joshua 6). In the battle of Jericho, God told Joshua and the children of Israel exactly what to do in order to overthrow Jericho. For 6 days they marched around the city, once per day, and the priests blew the trumpets each time. Then on the seventh day, they marched around the city 7 times, and the priests blew the trumpets each round. On the seventh round, the people also shouted along with the trumpets, and the city's walls crumbled to the ground. The Israelites destroyed the city and all that was in it (except Rahab, her family and her goods), burned it and no one was allowed to rebuild the city.
Notice that there are 7 days of blowing the trumpet. On the 7th day, the blowing encompasses 7 separate blowings. In the same way, there are 7 periods of time of blowing the trumpet in Revelation (7 judgments). Then, during the 7th time period, there are 7 last plagues (7 judgments), at which time the cities of earth crumble.
The Plagues and the Trumpets are all judgments and are tied together. Notice in the chart below how they even use similar language. However, they differ in that the 7 Trumpets are partial (affecting a third part of the realm), but by the time the Plagues are done, the entire realm is subdued.
|7 Trumpets||Affects||7 Last Plagues||Affects|
|Trumpet #1||Earth||Plague #1||Earth - Sores|
|Trumpet #2||Sea||Plague #2||Sea - Death|
|Trumpet #3||Waters||Plague #3||Waters - Blood|
|Trumpet #4||Sun, Moon, Stars||Plague #4||Sun - Fire/heat|
|Trumpet #5||Bottomless Pit, Smoke||Plague #5||Seat of Beast (Rome) - Darkness|
|Trumpet #6||Euphrates||Plague #6||Euphrates (armies supporting Rome) - All nations gather|
|Trumpet #7||Heaven||Plague #7||Air - Earthquake, Hail, Nations crumble|
With the many similarities, one could reasonably assume that the 7 Trumpets and 7 Last Plagues are parallel prophecies that occur over the same period of time. However, further study of the 7 Plagues shows them to be future events while the 7 Trumpets cover the Christian era. Instead of their similarities proving that they are parallel prophecies, they simply show that the work of the 7 Trumpets culminate during the 7th time period in the 7 Last Plagues. The 7 Trumpets made the final overthrow of earthly powers during the 7 Last Plagues possible. The 7 Trumpets and the 7 Last Plagues are a joint operation. All are judgments and all can be called trumpet blasts.
The chiastic structure (abc - cba) of the book of Revelation supports this view, with the 7 Trumpets in the 1st half of the book (the historical half) and the 7 Last Plagues in the 2nd half (the eschatological half). The double list of related items that the chiasm forms, reveal that the Trumpets and Plagues are not only related to each other, but like the other related items in the structure, the Plagues conclude the Trumpet story.
In summary, the plagues are the culmination of the judgments initiated during the 7 Trumpets. Similar language is used in each Trumpet and corresponding Plague (e.g. Trumpet 2 and Plague 2 both affect the sea, etc.). The 7 Trumpets (also called plagues - Rev. 9:20) detail the process of the fall of Rome, the final earthly realm. The 7 Last Plagues, which occur during the 7th Trumpet for a short time between the close of probation and the return of Christ, are the final step in that fall (see table).
Millenium (Rev. 20:1 - 20:15)
New Earth (Rev. 21:1 to 22:21)
Epilogue (Rev. 22:6 to 22:21)